What are the secrets to building an emotionally engaging experience? Emotions influence the customers’ choice more than we realise. While most companies and product designers emphasise the reasons to use their products, we can’t ignore the fact that it is more important to engage with a heart as well as mind.
In an age of increasing digitalisation where user data analysis is the new gold mining, there’s a movement emerging for enhanced personalisation in design, and emotional design.
Large corporations like Apple and Google have been able to collect millions of data points on user behaviour. This data is further used to present close and distant friendships, personal preferences, agendas and even predict whether someone will buy a particular product or not. Through these data points, companies can provide useful advice on upcoming events and give people the news regarding their interest. However, is this really what we need the most? What is the overall emotional impact these design changes have on people’s lives and is someone responsible and accountable in how personalisation impacts our emotions?
How is an emotion related to design?
Everything around us has been designed in a way to cause an emotional response. Moment by moment, we experience an emotional reaction to our whole surrounding. Whether that is joy, frustration, nostalgia or love – we feel it, and it’s personal. There’s an old rule among UX professionals which confirms that interaction with any product produces an experience, whether it had UX or not. When we talk about emotional design, we’re talking about how a product’s design or interaction affects the user. In the case of digital design, it’s a moment by moment effect which operates on three levels in the brain:
- Visceral – immediate, subconscious
- Behavioural – function, physical interactivity
- Reflective – Conscious, summarising
While some companies strive to cause positive emotional triggers, others use specific complex UX moves to make the user respond the way they want and drive sales and user engagement. For example, booking websites do this through a variety of patterns. They create a sense of urgency by showing a limited number of rooms/seats, or discount offers which create anxiety over missing out on a great deal. Other industries such as gaming and retail pay a lot of attention to feedback and user reviews to tailor and extract the best features and improve those that didn’t work out. Check the best new online bingo sites in 2020 and notice how different providers group the content and visuals in order to keep or attract gaming prospects.
Negative emotional triggers are not a bad thing. There are plenty of things people do in life because they want to avoid negative consequences. However, if a company wants to remain on the right side of business ethics, they need to use emotional triggers responsibly. Spotify is an excellent example of a company that uses positive emotional triggers in their product. Their content personalisation and advanced algorithms delight users, making them feel valued and happy. They are also sensitive to push notifications which are sent only when something interesting happens, for example, when your favourite artist drops a new single.
To create more extensive user-profiles and increase revenue numbers, the analysis and mining of user data will continue to progress and grow in value. An especially interesting thing to keep an eye on is how companies will handle the emotional effects triggered by their services. With so many options to choose from, customers now can make their decisions based on feelings. In the future, the design will continue to play a great role in emotional perception of products and services in general. It would be only a matter of time until there’s a position such as “emotional engagement designer” that would be a mix of web design, psychology and sociology. Their job would be to target an exact user group and create pleasant experience before, during and after the initial contact.